Friday, 6 October 2023
NSW pokies losing streak continues to spin out of control
Record half yearly losses in 2023 and an increasing number of poker machines in New South Wales points to growing levels of gambling harm according Wesley Mission’s analysis of the latest data from NSW Liquor and Gaming.
Quarterly data sets for the first six months of 2023 reveal that the people of NSW lost $3.921 billion to poker machines with the heaviest losses concentrated in some of the state’s most disadvantaged communities.
This is a $745 million increase from a pre-Covid high in the same period in 2019 of $3.186 billion.
“$ 3.9 billion equates to $22 million dollars every single day. This is money that should have been helping families weather the cost-of-living crisis but instead has gone to propping up a harmful and predatory industry”, says Wesley Mission CEO and Superintendent Rev Stu Cameron.
“The pain of broken individuals and families and the harm caused to communities behind these numbers is immense. Losses of this scale underpin the urgency for sensible, proportionate and effective reform.”
The data has also revealed that the total number of poker machines in NSW has increased.
From July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023. The overall number of poker machines active in NSW pubs and clubs rose from 86,650 to 87,298, an increase of 648 machines.
“The overall number of machines had been trending downwards from 2019 so this reversal is disturbing, particularly when the current cap for poker machines in NSW is 96,000.
“It’s highly likely this is the industry seeking to bolster their position in a window before potential reforms are introduced
“This increase is more concerning when you consider that since 2019 there are also 260 fewer venues with poker machines in New South Wales. This indicates there is a growing concentration of poker machines in some Local Government Areas.”
Canterbury-Bankstown remains the local government area with the highest losses with $167,106,662 million dollars lost in just three months (April-June) or just under $1.83 million a day.
The Central Coast remains the regional area with the largest losses with $74,323,329 lost in the same period which equates to $5.7 million a week.
Cameron says, “Given this ongoing upward trajectory of tragedy and increasing levels of gambling harm, NSW remains in the grip of a growing public health crisis.
“Wesley Mission sees the devastating 24/7 harm caused by these ubiquitous machines. It beggars belief that industry resistance to real reform remains.”
Wesley Mission is a member of the NSW Government’s Independent Expert Panel on Gambling Reform where the organisation has been advocating for the the introduction of a mandatory cashless gambling card with mandatory loss limits, along with a range of other reforms aimed at reducing gambling harm.
Wesley Mission provides practical care and support for more than 130,000 people annually in NSW and across Australia, including help for people experiencing homelessness, local community action groups preventing suicide, and gambling and financial counselling among more than 120 programs. www.wesleymission.org.au
Rev Stu Cameron is available for interview.